State health officials investigating measles cases

By on April 26, 2013

dhhsPublic health officials are trying to contact people who might have been exposed to measles after eight cases have been reported in Stokes and Orange Counties.

The first person developed symptoms on April 4 after returning from a trip to India, according to the North Carolina Division of Public Health.

Three adults and five children have developed the illness so far and more cases are likely, the health department said.

The two counties are in the north-central and northwest areas of the state.

“Measles is very uncommon in North Carolina, so many people aren’t aware of the symptoms,” Dr. Laura Gerald, the state health director, said in a statement. “Measles spreads quickly, particularly in children and adults who aren’t vaccinated.

“We want to make the public aware of this outbreak so individuals can take steps to protect themselves and their families.”

Measles is highly contagious and is spread through the air by coughing and sneezing. It also can be transmitted through contact with secretions from the nose or mouth of an infected person.

Initial symptoms may include fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and cough. After a few days, a rash appears on the head and spreads over the entire body. Measles can lead to pneumonia and other complications, especially in young children. The disease poses serious risks for pregnant women, including miscarriage and premature birth.

Although the early symptoms of measles can be similar to those of many other infections, Gerald recommends that anyone with fever, runny nose, watery red eyes and a cough, should stay at home and limit contact with others to avoid spreading illness.

If you develop a rash or if your symptoms worsen, call your doctor or seek medical care. If you do seek medical care, call your doctor’s office or health care facility before you go so they can prepare for your visit and protect other patients from exposure.

Measles can be prevented by the combination MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine. It is important for everyone12 months of age and older to be vaccinated.

“Vaccine is readily available,” Gerald said. “Anyone interested in getting vaccinated should contact their primary health care provider or their local health department.”

More information is available at

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